B'Tselem Publishes a New Report: "Beit Rima, 24 October, 2001 -
Human Rights Violations during the IDF Action in Beit Rima"
"In general the IDF forces carried out their mission well. Little fire was carried out by our forces towards terrorists that were shooting towards our forces, and towards those armed which endangered the lives of the IDF soldiers." (Nahal Brigade Commander, Colonel Yair Golan, 24 Oct., 01)
Today B'Tselem publishes its comprehensive investigation into the IDF's incursion into the village of Beit Rima on October 24. During this action and afterwards, both sides circulated contradictory and inaccurate versions of events in the village. B'Tselem's investigation reveals that while the number of casualties was lower than that reported by Palestinian sources, contrary to military statements, the IDF perpetrated many human rights violations in Beit Rima, including:
- The use of excessive force and the unjustified shooting of Palestinian security force personnel:
Contrary to IDF statements, the Palestinian police received no prior warning regarding the action and the policemen awakened from sleep were shot to death by IDF soldiers. In addition, soldiers shot at unarmed Palestinians.
- Denial of medical treatment:
Individuals who were injured bled for over five hours before they were given medical treatment. The IDF prevented the Palestinian Red Crescent, the ICRC and village doctors from attending to the wounded.
- Punitive demolition of the houses of families of suspects:
During the IDF action, the military demolished three houses as a punitive measure. These houses belonged to families with a relative suspected of perpetrating attacks on Israelis. The demolitions were conducted with no legal process whatsoever, without letting the families take belongings out of the house, and in contradiction of international law.
B'Tselem warns that if the IDF does not draw the necessary conclusions from the IDF action in Beit Rima, the next such action is liable to have even more tragic consequences.
In the conclusions to its report B'Tselem calls on the Israeli security establishment:
- To change the Open-Fire Regulations to forbid firing in cases where the lives of security forces are not in jeopardy. All cases in which Palestinians were killed or injured during the IDF incursion into Beit Rima should be investigated. In cases where it is found that Palestinians were shot even though they did not jeopardize the soldiers' lives, those responsible should be prosecuted.
- To clearly and unequivocally instruct forces on the ground that it is their duty to allow passage to ambulances on their way to treat the wounded. Only under extraordinary circumstances are soldiers allowed to prevent medical teams from entering an area, and even then, the prohibition may be for a limited time only. In such cases, military physicians must treat the wounded to the greatest extent possible. Injured persons in IDF custody must be given immediate medical attention.
- To immediately suspend the policy of house demolitions as a punitive measure against relatives of Palestinians suspected of attacking Israelis.